Homemade hummus with garlic ciabatta. Leftover couscous from last night.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to quit meat and dairy for good. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I thought that eating organic meat and cheese would ease my conscience, but it didn’t take long for my guilty feelings to come back. Due to a light lactose intolerance, I substituted regular milk with soy or rice milk last year, hardly eat any yogurt, Quark or (ice) cream.
So in order to entirely cut out dairy products from my food list, I stopped eating butter and cheese. I’ve been researching on the internet about substitutes and there are so many sites that list a number of options. Some sites I found a little intimidating. Not because the vegan community and their activism can be a little radical, but because there’s so much information available. I literally don’t know where to start. Veganism doesn’t only affect food choices, but it’s a whole different lifestyle. I doubt I can go fully vegan now (or ever for that matter). Right now, I’m neither a vegetarian nor a vegan since I still eat fish (vegan Korean yuksu recipe anyone?) and eggs. My sister says, I shouldn’t be too dogmatic about rules. She’s right. But I have to admit I’m a little confused and a few guidelines would be helpful. So I decided to slowly work my way through this. It’s a start.
At the moment, I’m looking for ways to subsitute things I cannot eat anymore. For butter, of course, there’s margarine (although margarine is not vegan per se, I found out). But for eggs? (Don’t tell me about tofu, I’m Asian, we invented tofu and it’s no substitute. No.) And it seems like butter and eggs are in everything.
Also, what I’ve read about margarine so far is a little disturbing. One German brand, for example, claims consuming their product lowers levels of cholesterol. But it also contains phytosterol that increases the risks of coronary artery disease and, ironically, heart attacks. What I’m trying to say is, that eating healthier isn’t as easy as I thought, especially when I have to check even those products that are labeled as vegan, because some contain added vitamins, sugar or, in this case, a shitload of palm oil (think tropical deforestation). You see, there’s no end to this.
I think it will take me at least three months to fully transition into a more conscious mindset of eating a tiny little bit more sustainably, decode food labels and fight the temptations in this meat hungry country. But I hope by then, I will be a little healthier and able to shop like a pro. Wish me luck.
ps. Suggestions, advice, recommendations regarding food shopping, websites, books (on the environment, food industry, vegetarianism/veganism) are highly welcome! There are so many, it’s a little overwhelming.